BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Colombia’s president thanked the country’s Jewish community for its contribution toward building the nation.
Alvaro Uribe spoke at the 11th meeting of Latin American and the Caribbean Jewish Institutional and Community Leaders organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee May 6-10 in Cartagena.
Uribe, cheered by a packed room of 645 participants from Latin America, the Caribbean, America, Europe and Israel, noted the drop in poverty and narcotics traffic in his country and promoted the advantages of investing in Colombia.
His visit to the Hilton Hotel was under strict security: Meeting attendees were patted down and trained dogs inspected the area.
The meeting featured addresses by a Syrian Colombian sheik, Ahmad Tayel, and a Catholic Palestinian Chilean, Gustavo Hasbun Selume. Their invitations for a crowded plenary session about attitudes among the Jewish and Arab communities had sparked community debate.
Tayel in his 15-minute speech invited the crowd to join together in the fight against oppression and criticized Holocaust denial. He was interrupted by five rounds of applause.
Regional anti Semitism — linked to the increasing presence of Iran in Latin America — was a recurring topic of the meeting.